Courtesy of Timothy Minahan, Presentation Editor.

What would you do if your cousin raped you at the young age of 14, your parents didn’t believe you and the perpetrator had a habit of coming after people who “snitch” on him? Probably hide it in order to survive. That’s what one girl did. Thankfully, the girl I am talking about — a close friend — was never impregnated by this man, though she was raped multiple times. If she had become pregnant, she would have needed an abortion and she would have suffered grave consequences if her parents’ consent were required or, worse, if it was illegal. Her baby would have been concrete proof of her cousin’s guilt.

This might sound like a crazy story, but there are cases like this every year. Starting in the 1980s, when the first national surveys on sexual abuse were conducted, it became clear that more than a quarter of American women and around 15 percent of men were sexually abused as children. An even more comprehensive study conducted in 2009 showed that even in the international community, seven percent of men and 19 percent of women were sexually abused before the age of 18. These may even be underestimates.

One problem researchers report is that people tend to cover up their abuse. While this is a major problem for research, it often seems like the best option for victims. Even organizations such as Planned Parenthood participate in cover-ups. In the public health field, many professionals are forced to hide the abuse of some of their patients. The sad reality is that organizations like Planned Parenthood, with good cause, participate in this kind of obfuscation of facts for the sake of their patients’ well-being year after year.

It has been a known fact for a long time that organizations like Planned Parenthood have strict privacy rules that cover up abuse and underage pregnancies. Recently, however, former Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline “uncovered” this fact for himself and other anti-abortionists. He testified in court that the late George Tiller, a late-term abortion doctor, has performed 164 abortions on girls who were 14 or younger, implying that Tiller is a criminal for helping these girls because he helped cover up statutory rapes. In his black and white view, Kline and other anti-abortionists assert that his findings are incriminating to Planned Parenthood, which has long had a strict privacy policy and never hid its purpose.

Public health professionals often help keep illegal activities hidden from authorities so that they can keep offering protection to those who come to them without fear of retribution. When anti-abortionist Lila Rose sent news agencies hidden camera videos of a Planned Parenthood employee helping a man and a woman posing as a pimp and prostitute get contraceptives and abortions, the manager never asked for money. If she had been acting in a corrupt manner, she would have needed some kind of incentive.
Proponents of Kline and other anti-abortion lobbies neglect to look at what forcing young victims of sexual abuse out into the open and away from the option of abortion would mean for these victims, the very people they seek to protect. Humiliation, violence and death are all possible outcomes.

I personally feel that the lives of children who are here now, with complete thoughts and emotions, are far more sacred than cells and should be protected. When I look into the eyes of my friend and others who have suffered abuse, I see pain and joy from her suffering and subsequent triumph, and I am relieved that she made it past those horrible days, no matter what the cost or who “got away.” I’m simply happy that she’s here now.

So, before you make judgments about abortion based off of esoteric and intangible theological and philosophical musings, just think to yourself, “Who do I know who has been abused?” Chances are, you know several people, even if you’ve never asked or found out. If you do know of someone like that, imagine what might have happened to her if she had become pregnant at a young age and been forced to keep that baby — to birth the monstrous product of abuse, incest or rape. Could you look her in the eyes and say, “I supported the legislation that made you suffer even more?”

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